From 1 July this year, all car manufacturers must install an acoustic sound system in new types of quiet electric and hybrid electric vehicles, to improve road safety.

Sound generators will produce a specified level of noise when they are reversing or running below 20 km/h (about 12mph). The sound generated will be similar to a conventional engine and can be temporarily deactivated by the driver if judged necessary.

The new regulation is designed to allow those who are visually impaired to hear vehicles more easily.

“The government understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles,” Roads Minister Michael Ellis said. “This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.”

The regulation will apply to all new types of ‘quiet’ electric and hybrid vehicles from 1 July 2019, and to all new quiet electric and hybrid vehicles registered from July 2021.